Ramsammy pleased Guyana to benefit from Bush’s US$15B AIDS programme
Stabroek News
January 31, 2003

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Guyana is among a number of countries in Africa and the Caribbean set to benefit from a US$15B programme proposed by US President George Bush in Tuesday’s State of the Union address and this has been welcomed by the Ministry of Health.

A surprised Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy told Stabroek News yesterday that even though he had been in contact with persons in the US and was aware that a number of them, including Secretary of Health & Human Services, Tommy Thompson, was lobbying for funds to help fight AIDS in Guyana, he was not informed of Bush’s announcement.

A Reuters report carried in yesterday’s Stabroek News stated that President Bush asked Congress on Tuesday to triple AIDS spending in Africa and the Caribbean to $15B over five years.

Bush stated that it would provide for both prevention and treatment of the epidemic. The announcement is said to have taken AIDS campaigners by surprise given recent criticism of America’s role in dealing with the pandemic.

Guyana and Haiti are the only two Caribbean countries set to benefit from the $15B while Botswana, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia are the African countries to benefit.

According to the minister the initial response from the Bush administration last year was for the mother-to-child prevention programme for Guyana and Haiti to be included.

“They have now decided to increase the amount of money going into the fight against HIV/AIDS which will not be limited to the initiative of prevention of mother-to-child........” He feels that other Caribbean islands might very well benefit.

“But one of the things is that we have already begun to receive assistance. We have got two CDC (Centers for Disease Control) personnel here permanently. CDC has opened a local office in Guyana and they have two senior persons here and a third one is expected to join them soon to help in the execution of our (mother-to-child) programme in its capacity building.....” the minister said.

Should Guyana receive the additional assistance from the US the focus would be on treatment and care.

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